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tealeaves: an R package for modelling leaf temperature using energy budgets

Plants are able to grow, survive and reproduce under a wide range of temperatures. Examples of plants that thrive in temperature extremes include cushion plants in alpine ecosystems that grow close to the ground to stay warm and desert plants that have decreased absorptance to stay cool. Other plants keep their stomata open to dissipate heat, protecting them from extreme heatwaves. Understanding these diverse mechanisms of thermal adaptation and acclimation may provide insight into how plants respond to increasing temperatures and how these responses influence ecosystem function with anthropogenic climate change.

tealeaves can be found on both CRAN or GitHub for installation in R. Image credit: C. Muir

In a recent Editor’s Choice article published in AoBP, Chris Muir presents his new tool designed to make complex leaf energy budget models accessible to a broader array of plant scientists. tealeaves is an R package that enables novice users to start modelling leaf energy budgets quickly while allowing experts to customize their parameter settings. As with most R packages, the code for tealeaves is open source, freely available and integrates readily with other packages in the R ecosystem. Chris states that this paper describes the current functionality of tealeaves but that new features will be added in the future. He hopes that this software tool will advance new research on leaf thermal physiology to enhance our understanding of basic and applied plant science.

This paper is the first publication in AoBP’s new Tools section, welcoming manuscripts that provide descriptions of novel tools of substantial value to the plant science community, including new experimental or analytical methods or tools, and mathematical and/or computational models.

Researcher highlight

Chris Muir grew up in Virginia, USA and received his PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Indiana University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and worked as a biostatistician at Poisson Consulting and Novozymes. Chris is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Life Sciences and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He is Secretary of the Division of Botany for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Chris is an evolutionary ecophysiologist interested in how and why plants adapt to different environments. He has worked with wild relatives of tomato and monkeyflowers, but also uses mathematical models and phylogenetic comparative analyses. He is also interested in developing new computational tools for plant ecophysiologists to make complex modelling and data analysis easier.

Chris is on Twitter so please follow him, @thegoodphyte.

Written by William Salter

William (Tam) Salter is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Institute of Agriculture at the University of Sydney. He has a bachelor degree in Ecological Science (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in plant ecophysiology from the University of Sydney. Tam is interested in the identification and elucidation of plant traits that could be useful for ecosystem resilience and future food security under global environmental change. He also has an active interest in effective scientific communication.

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